Live from Atlanta

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The American South is the home of "loosely tight," the blessed phenomenon when a band is striking hard on all cylinders but still has a potent, satisfying swing in their step as they command the groove. Proud sons of Memphis, Tennessee, Lucero present a master's class in "loosely tight" on Live from Atlanta, a 32-song live set recorded in November 2013 during a three-night stand in the Peach State. Lucero are vocally proud of their status as road dogs who tour relentlessly year after year, and Live from Atlanta confirms that hard work has paid dividends. On this album, the band is in splendid form, rocking with swagger and sweat on tunes like "Sweet Little Thing" and "On My Way Downtown," dipping into an atmospheric mood on "Union Pacific Line," "Texas and Tennessee," and "Raising Hell," or laying out some 100-proof boogie on "Women and Work" and "Juniper." Lead singer Ben Nichols shows off his profoundly satisfying rasp on these tunes, demonstrating the fine things bourbon and nicotine can do for a honky tonk singer's instrument, and the band was absolutely on point when these tapes rolled, especially keyboard man Rick Steff, horn players Jim Spake and Scott Thompson, and guitarist Brian Venable. Lucero can rock hard, but with real soul and a passion that recalls what was good about Southern rock before it became a mass of cliches, with added street smarts and ferocity that brings this into the 21st century. And in the tradition of the glory days of Southern rock, this is a live album that really does capture how good Lucero can be when they're giving their all for an audience (who are audibly happy to be hearing them strut their stuff); this honestly captures what Lucero does best as well as The Allman Brothers Band at Fillmore East did for that iconic band. When the band close down their set with "Tears Don't Matter Much," you'd think they would be spent and ready to send the fans home, until they pull out six more songs for the encore; Lucero are musicians and showmen at the same time, and Live from Atlanta captures both sides beautifully. If you're any kind of fan, this is essential.

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